Every spring I send out an email to my past guests to encourage them to reserve for the coming summer. The email not only helps with pre-bookings, but it helps me gauge attitudes about coming back to Windward House and Camden Maine. The initial responses I get are always very positive and encouraging. Many return to Windward year after year. My Inn has become a comfortable Maine vacation home for many. I recently wrote a blog post, Can Maine Position itself as a 2017 Vacation Destination? In the post, I mention latching onto Canadian tourism efforts. I was referring to the Canadian marketing encouraging tourists to see Canada as an all-inclusive and friendly destination. They hint that the USA is no longer the welcoming country it once was. My idea of latching on to the Canadian efforts was to encourage tourists to stop in Maine on their way to Canada. But, after sending my pre-booking email out to my past guests, a different idea emerged from a past Canadian guest response. Instead of latching on to the Canadian efforts to attract overseas and American tourists on their way to Canada, Maine has to step up its efforts to welcome Canadians to Maine this summer. It is obvious that there are some Canadians that have misinformation about traveling to the USA from Canada. There are more and more news stories about Canadian Schools and Canadian groups canceling trips to the USA in 2017. This should be addressed to encourage tourism not only to the USA, but to Maine. The item that sparked my blog post is the quote from my Canadian guest:
“We love Maine and Camden but are unlikely to visit soon because of the reported behavior of border guards/ custom officials to visitors and US citizens.”
I am not going to be political in this blog post. I do not think it is productive to blog about criticizing the administration. I am not sure what the Canadian guest is referring to, but I do see an opportunity here. Maine, one of the direct border states with Canada, needs to be on the forefront welcoming Canadians to the USA. We need to hold the door open and impress upon Canadians that travel is important to broaden the mind and alleviates fear. The Maine Office of Tourism at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism addressed Working with the Canadian Market. The MOT presented Canadian focus groups findings. The presentation addressed Canadian attitudes about coming to Maine. The presentation does not mention the border situation and current political climate. It focuses on learning what makes Maine special and different. The study mentions the exchange rate issues and the problem with distinguishing Maine as a unique place to visit. Part of the challenge is that Maine is similar in landscape and climate to Eastern Canada. How can Maine distinguish itself as a true destination for Canadians? The study brings up many interesting points for discussion and pinpoints some ideas to go forward. As an individual in tourism, I appreciate the knowledge in this presentation and will try to utilize it. There are things we can learn to influence travel decisions. One feature that makes Maine unique, and is not mentioned in the presentation, is that many in Maine are from away. Maine newcomers know the importance of receiving a warm welcome. Let’s find our common ground and welcome everyone to our beautiful state.
Here is my simple welcome card to the Canadians.